Rival royals give new life to debate on monarchy

CANBERRA - Royal fever has been sweeping Australia as Prince Charles and Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary criss-cross the continent this week - and republicans and monarchists could not be happier.

Support for both causes has been evident throughout Charles' tour with well-wishers at some events breaking into song with God Save the Queen, while a man wearing a republican T-shirt was arrested in Perth for swearing at monarchists.

Little newspaper space has been given to Charles compared with pages dedicated to Mary, who is being treated like a movie star. Photographs of Mary at a Sydney charity ball overshadowed photographs of Charles peeping from the door of an outback toilet. Sydney's Daily Telegraph headline read "Hail Mary" and its editorial suggested jokingly that the Danish royals become Australia's next heads of state.

David Flint, head of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, said that although Charles popularity was waning, Mary - an Australian who married into the Danish royal family - demonstrated the magic of monarchy.

"She's attractive, she's young and it's her first visit to Australia as a princess. I think that has also very much assisted the monarchal cause.

There is a magic in monarchy, which you don't have in a republic," Flint said.

But republicans claim the hype surrounding home-grown Mary, has increased support for a republic with an Australian head-of-state. "It does really play into the republican case that she's one of us and we're more excited about her because of that," Australian Republican Movement Chairman John Warhurst said. "I'm sure Charles wishes he wasn't here at the same time."

An opinion poll published last weekend showed a surge in support for a republic.

- REUTERS

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